[Digital Event, Fri Jan 10th 2pm GMT] Is the Climate and Ecological Crisis in the Hands of the People or Government?

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Many argue we have to wait for the government to lead on tackling the environmental crisis before we can have any meaningful impact; others believe that consumer power can make all the difference. As we enter into another term of government, with Brexit being the first thing to work on, people are left wondering where best to put their energy.

Should we be encouraging everyone to change consumer habits and behaviour, or should we rely on the government? Will our energy be best used researching how to make our house more energy efficient or be put into pushing for more progressive policies to be represented in government?

We will be debating the role of the local and national governments as well as businesses and people.

Join this event by clicking by registering here and please start the discussion by clicking reply to this topic.


Rupert_Read%20Small Rupert Read - National UK Spokesperson @ Extinction Rebellion

Rupert Read is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia. He is author of eight books and specialises in Wittgenstein, philosophy of film, and ecological philosophy. Rupert is a former chair of Green House think tank, and is a former Green Party of England and Wales councillor, spokesperson, European parliamentary candidate and national parliamentary candidate. He is currently a national UK spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion and is a frequent guest on a range of national UK television and radio programs. He has articles in The Guardian, The Independent, The Ecologist as well as other newspapers, magazines and websites.

Tom%20small Tom Beckett - Founder and Director @Better Century

Tom Beckett has worked for the environment in different guises throughout his career. Working for a leading renewable energy association and sustainability consultancy, he has investigated and delivered high policy analysis to assist governments in making decisions regarding sustainable technology. He worked in politics by helping lead the Green Party through the 2014/15 green surge, as a Director, and has since been advocating for nature as a Director of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. Tom has now founded Better Century, which is a network that provides sustainable solutions and inspiration.


Interesting ruling that due to Human Rights a Government (Netherlands) has to protect its citizens from climate change.

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Some comments and questions from those participating tomorrow. We’ll be trying to answer these questions and more! Join us

Questions about balancing action

Amanda Can individuals stop the climate crisis?

Owen To what extent does changing consumer habits affect policymakers opinions on whether they should enact legislation - or, if habits change, do politicians feel less required to legislate against harmful behaviour?

Tony So we have to change habits, AND we have to browbeat government, AND we have to attempt to become the majority. The goals are clear: 1. reduce/eliminate consumption of harmful things 2. get government to legislate where encouragement doesn’t work 3. NOT alienate the public in the process so that more will join us The question is, how?

Mary How much power do we have as ordinary people to bring about change when the media is so controlled by the government, and big business dominates?

Paul No voluntary initiative will ever have sufficient and long-lasting effect to stop Climate Change. That requires laws and compulsion and only government can enact laws. So should we not concentrate all our effort on a) governments, b)politicians and c) those that influence them?

Julie In what ways can disabled people who are housebound help to campaign & contribute.

Questions about the role of local authorities

Saraj I am interested in joining this webinar as our local group are discussing how to lobby our district council as well as lobbying candidates for our county council election in May,

Ames I have particular interest in the responsibility of local government to assist low income households to live greener with financial gain rather than detriment. Such as solar panels for all council properties and free sustainable public transport.

Margaret I’ve participated in sessions devising climate change actions, following on from the local Town Council making a cc declaration. It’s hard to know how to deal with issues that require action from a higher level of local government, or national level policy. How to persuade local councils to demand changes needed and create upward pressure?

Jonathan What approach do you believe local governments should take to begin to make a significant impact?

Questions about international responses

Jay Q: @Rupert Read - What are your thoughts on what it would take for the “United Nations” to live up to its name and really act as united nations? More specifically, what can be done to help the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals be achieved by 2030?

Nick What can be done to make COP 26 the success it needs to be

Alan Surely the biggest thing we can do is reduce our global population.

Questions about the impact of commercial pressure

Geoff Could mass action in the form of household & family green living affect government policy through commercial pressure?

Nicola How to cut the number of flights, and prevent airport and air travel expansion?

Questions about systemic change

Lawrence How does the panel see the role of structures such as Participatory democracy/Governance, deliberative Democracy and models like democratic confederalism in creating system change? and how we can implement these in such divisive times?

Maggie Where should we put our energy in our local communities? And are actions such as those of XR best taken centrally or devolved to be near where we live?

Samantha I’m interested in hearing the panel’s (and others) views on whether the government is capable of stepping up to the climate crisis - and whether the current political system is capable of moving from fossil fuels to renewables. Do we need a different political and economic system? If so, which system(s)? And how do we make the change?

Answers to the question itself

Tanya A balance of both? System change from grassroots- influencing the government. Voting/democracy doesn’t seem to be addressing the issue with urgency required

Josie Surely its a mix of personal responsibilities through where we bank etc, presurising our work places to become eithical through culture and policy change and also governmental responsibilites too. Why is the debate always either or, rather than everything

Daniel Is the climate and ecological crisis in the hands of the people or government? It MUST and has always resided in the will of the people to save themselves and their progeny!

Rachel My main questions are already covered in your description above. I am more and more convinced that consumer behaviour could be where we need to be focusing our energies. The markets are very sensitive to any changes. They monitor everything very closely. Let’s scare the shit out of them!!

Justy Decades of asking consumers to ‘do the right thing’ hasn’t worked. We need state wide, nationwide, international laws to make a real difference, but let’s not be hypocrites and let’s do the best we can as well and encourage others to do the same.

Stephen Can we end the confusion between net and zero?

Rachel I have been asking myself the same questions. I am very concerned that a Tory government with a big majority will do all they can to avoid acting on the science!

Kelvin Habits and behaviour are not solely ‘consumer’ habits and behaviour.

Here is the podcast of this event:


It seems clear to me we have to fight ecological and climate chaos with all possible means, and many have been mentioned. But when scientists talk that it will require nothing less that a change of lifestyle I haven’t seen them spell out what this means. My sense of what this means is community and communally-based, sharing-based, economies of which there are increasing numbers of examples of various styles and types. This sets up a whole different set of values and activity, and it undermines the need for the individualised, consumerist, economy which is at the root of both individual economic and personal struggle and the eco and climate chaos. I think Rupert Read pointed this ‘plus plus’ relationship very well in the webinar. Along with others I’m trying to get my own parish to work towards it.

Here’s the video of the event: